Wildcat offense comes alive in K-State win over West Virginia Saturday in Manhattan

Doug Will
Pratt Tribune
A purple wave surrounds K-State running back Deuce Vaughn as he looks for an opening to run on a chilly Saturday morning in Manhattan.

The 7-3 Kansas State Wildcats are coming off a 34-17 win over West Virginia last Saturday in a game that was in a little doubt during the 4th quarter. This Saturday K-State will host the Baylor Bears during Senior Day as this is the last home game of 2021. The game will kickoff at a little bit of a strange time as it is scheduled for a 4:30 start and will be televised by FS1.

Saturday’s game could not have started much better for the Wildcats as the defense, on the second offensive play of the game, got the ball back as senior transfer free safety Russ Yeast picked off the West Virginia pass and the offense would take over on their own 45. Six plays later, 5 of which where running plays, Sophomore Joe Ervin finished the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. The teams then traded punts and on West Virginia’s third drive of the day the Wildcats again held but this time redshirt freshman Ty Bowman blocked the punt and fellow freshman Marvin Martin caught the ball and would trot in from the 7-yard line and the Wildcats where up 14-0. KSU would get a field goal with about 3 minutes left in the half to make it 17-0 and then West Virginia kicked one with 38 seconds left and the teams would go into the locker room with Kansas State leading 17-3.

Junior Malik Knowles opened the third quarter, behind some very good blocking, returned the kickoff 64 yards to give K-State great field position at the West Virginia 33-yard line. Eight plays later senior quarterback Skylar Thompson found junior tight end Sammy Wheeler for a 4-yard touchdown pass and the Wildcats led 24-3 and it looked like the game was in hand. The Mountaineers finally put together a complete drive and went 68 yards in 10 plays to make it 24-10 and that is how the third quarter would end. West Virginia would then get within a touchdown as they scored early in the 4th quarter, and we have ourselves a ball game. On the ensuing drive after starting at the KSU 37-yard line the Wildcats picked up a first down but then were staring at a 4th down and eight from the West Virginia 39-yard line and decided to go for it. Thompson hit Wheeler for a 35-yard completion on the prettiest seam route you’ll see, which led to Deuce Vaughn darting 4 yards into the end zone on the next play. It was effectively game over. Kansas State would add a field goal with 4:25 left to finish the scoring.

The Wildcats would end the game with 15 first downs and 161 rushing yards and 299 total yards on the day. The Mountaineers had 20 first downs, threw the ball 45 times and would have 345 total yards. Sophomore running back Deuce Vaughn again led the team with 121 rushing yards and a touchdown and he also added two receptions. Ervin had 9 carries on the day for 31 yards. Thompson was 14 for 19 with a touchdown and he was sacked one time. Junior Philip Brooks had 5 catches on the day for 62 yards while Wheeler added 3 for 45 yards. Senior linebacker Cody Fletcher had a team high seven tackles while fellow junior linebacker Daniel Green and junior transfer Julius Brents each had 6.

The 11th ranked and 8-2 overall and 5-2 in the Big 12 the Baylor Bears will visit Bill Snyder Family Stadium this Saturday in the last home game of the year. They have won four of their last five games as they beat West Virginia 45-20, Brigham Young 38-24, and Texas 31-24. Two weeks ago, they lost to TCU 30-28 but last Saturday they upset the Oklahoma Sooners 27-14. Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon had a touchdown pass against OU and added 2 more on the ground. The Bear defense held the Sooners to only 260 yards which is the lowest amount in Lincoln Riley’s 5 seasons as a head coach. In Conference games only Baylor is 5th in scoring putting up 31.6 points while K-State is 7th scoring 28 points a game. The Bear defense is second in scoring allowing jus 21.1 puts while the Wildcats are one spot back and giving up 23.4 points. Baylor is 7th in total offense gaining 413.9 yards and Kansas State is 8th getting 370 yards. The Wildcats are 3rd in total defense giving up just 366.9 yards and Baylor is 5th allowing 373.1 yards. Baylor’s Abram Smith is 4th in rushing averaging 110 yards a game and Deuce Vaughn is 6th getting 88. Skylar Thompson is 3rd in the Big 12 as he is averaging 242.7 passing yards a game and he is completing over 72% of his passes. Bohanon is 7th averaging 208.3 yards a game and he is completing 63% of his passes.

The Wildcats, with a win over Baylor this Saturday, would move into a tie for 3rd place in the Big 12 and hopefully move up the pecking order for the bowl games. This will not be an easy game as both teams are playing good football and should be a very even contest. The main advantage the Wildcats have is a super senior quarterback and the home field advantage. The Wildcats win their 5th straight game, but it will be anything but easy. K-State moves to 8-3 overall and 5-3 in Big 12 play. Kansas State 31, Baylor 27. Go ‘Cats!!!!!!!!!